Senior Living Advice: Caregivers need to seek help, not offer excuses

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By Beth Dow, Solutions by Beth

As we enter our 7th month into the “year of COVID”, many have found their caregiving role has been expanded or maybe has  begun sooner than they thought it would.

And while back in March, you thought this extra role would only last a week or two…a month tops, and now there is no clear end in sight.  

You may be beginning to hear comments from friends and family members saying that you look tired or seem stressed.  But you just ignore the comments.  And you find that you are making excuses to not only them, but to yourself.    

Some of the best excuse-driven folks I know, second to the student with homework due, are caregivers.  Caregivers often give excuses that allow them to avoid getting help. I have heard the excuses; they just don’t cut it.

Excuse No. 1: “I don’t need a break.”  Even God took a break on the 7th day!  All of us need a break: time to recharge or rest.  Caregivers are no different.

Excuse No. 2: “I don’t have anyone in town to help.” Thanks to our wonderful world of technology, help does not have to live in your town.  Family members that live out of town can help by ordering groceries, prepared meals, and personal hygiene items right to your door.  They can handle scheduling medical appointments and schedule in-home care. For that matter, they may even help pay for in-home care since they are not able to provide care themselves.   Anything, no matter how small it may seem, that you can take off your plate is a step in the right direction.

Excuse No. 3: “I can’t afford help.”  Help may not be as expensive as you think.  If your care recipient is a veteran or the spouse of a veteran, they may qualify for the Aid and Attendance Benefit.  Medicaid also pays for home care.  And never underestimate the willingness of friends or other family members to give a few hours of their time to give you a break. 

Before you discount getting help, contact home care agencies like Home Helpers, and you may be surprised at what you can afford.

Excuse No. 4: “No one will look after her/him like I will.”  I had 24-hour care for my mom the last 6 years of her life.  I know without a doubt, that they provided better care for her than I could ever give her.  Her care was shared by caregivers that got  breaks.  When they came in for a shift, they were fresh and ready for the day, not already exhausted.  Remember the best care you can give a loved one may be care that is not provided by you.

If you are a caregiver, survive this journey.  Ask for help.  If you are a friend or family member to a caregiver, don’t let them continue to make excuses.  Thirty percent of caregivers provide care for less than 1 year.  Twenty-one percent for more than 5 years, and 15 percent of caregivers provide care for more than 10 years.  This is a journey … a journey, you can survive with help.

Beth Dow is a Dementia and Alzheimer’s Educator, CAEd, Geriatric Care Manager and Certified Senior Advisor. Contact her at [email protected].

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